After several trips to Negros Oriental–Dumaguete in particular–I thought I’ve experienced everything there is in the region. I was wrong. Every now and then, Dumaguete and the other towns of Negros seem to have a new surprise it can always lure you to go back.
On my last visit, I stayed at the posh Atmosphere Resorts in Dauin where I had one of my most relaxing vacations in recent years. Also, after waiting for three summers, I finally got the chance to see Manjuyod Sandbar face to face. It was a great experience, so let me share some details.
How To Get There
Cebu to Dumaguete
A) Take a Ceres bus to Santander Port at the South Bus Terminal (3 hrs, P200, earliest trip is 1 AM).
B) Then take a barge to Sibulan. (15-20 mins, P70, earliest trip is 5 AM).
C) From Sibulan, either rent a tricycle (P150) or take a jeepney (P11). Travel time is 10-15 minutes.
Manila to Dumaguete
There are daily flights from Manila to Dumaguete. Travel time is 1 hour, 20 minutes.
Dumaguete to Manjuyod
The sandbar is several towns away from Dumaguete City. Getting there means taking a Ceres bus to Bais and passing through the towns of Sibulan, Amlan, and San Jose. Travel time is about two hours.
At the town center of Bais, you can rent a tricycle to take you to the ports. There are two options: Capiñahan Wharf in the south, where government-operated boats are docked, and the Canibol Wharf in the north, where you can hire private boats.
Boat rental ranges from P2500 (good for 15 guests) to P3500 (good for 20 guests). It’s important to have this booked in advance especially in the peak seasons (February to May).
To make the trip easy—because I was booked at Atmosphere, which is some 30 minutes away from Dumaguete—I arranged a tour with DUMAGUETE OUTDOORS through Angelo Villanueva. I’ve read positive testimonials about their service, so I had no second thoughts getting them. Good decision, it was no sweat for me. Angelo took care of everything from picking me up at the resort, to the food, the boat, and the drinks. And he also brought some of his friends, which made the tour super fun!
It seemed like a very short trip, however, because Angelo and his friends did not run out of things to talk and laugh about. In between the chitchat, we chewed some sugar-coated banana chips that Becky brought with her. The jeepney was also open air, I could smell the slow-paced countryside.
And then at the port, we took a boat that I think could fit 20-30 people. It was a big boat, much like those for island hopping in Mactan, Cebu. Angelo had the big ice chest and baskets moved to the moved—they’re food! Lots of food. And beer. I could sense a summer party at the sandbar.
Sea, Sun, and Sandbar
In less than 20 minutes, we reached the spot. It was past 3 PM. The sand bar was still under several feet of sea water, but Angelo assured that the water would get to its lowest past four. On a perfect day and at low tide, one can see a 7-kilometer stretch of white sand that has earned this place the title “The Maldives of the Philippines.”
My first impression of the place was great. It was a nice weekend playground. Although I think it’s not as drop-dead gorgeous as those I’ve seen in Caramoan and Camiguin–plus it really has to be low tide when you visit or there won’t be any strip of sand at all–it’s the best sandbar in the Negros region and would not disappoint.
The party started right away. The music from Spencer’s radio set the mood. We got a taste of Dumaguete’s budbud and tsokolate, while the oysters sizzled over charcoal at the back end of the boat. Shortly, all the food was ready. It was seafood fiesta.
You don’t go to the sandbar just to take photos of a sandbar. You go there to have fun, to kitesurf and wade in the water, to meet friends and party under the sun! You go there to kill time, dance to the beat of good music, and drink beer! That weekend I went to Manjuyod was one of the feel-good, memorable trips I’ve had this year.
Tour Package vs. DIY
You can also have a DIY tour of Manjuyod if you’re the backpacker type of traveler. If you want to be spared from the inconvenience and you only want your tour to be good time at the sandbar, I would advise to have a tour company arrange the trip.
There are many tour operators in Negros, including those managed by the resorts. Out of the several options considered, including customer reviews and the recommendation of my friends, it’s Dumaguete Outdoors that stands out. The tour agency has been operating since 2004 and is known for its tours to Manjuyod, Apo Island, Oslob, and Siquijor. They’ll make sure you have a boat reserved, a jeepney or car hired to take you from Dumaguete to Manjuyod and back, and have your food prepared. It also customizes tours based on the needs and budget of their customers.
Where to Stay
People who visit Manjuyod usually stay in Dumaguete City and some resorts in the nearby towns. If you’re not on budget, the most lucrative accommodation you can get is the Atmosphere Resorts, a multi-awarded luxury resort in Dauin. (Read our review of Atmosphere Resorts here.)
The sandbar has stilt cottages—which makes it reminiscent of Maldives—but they’re very basic and are only perfect for parties. Each cottage is rented out for P3,000 to P4,000 per night, and P1500 for day use. You can contact the Bais City Tourism Office to get assistance on the cottages.
BAIS CITY TOURISM OFFICE
Contact Number: (035) 402 8338
On some parts of the year, Manjuyod Sandbar has good sunsets, too.
(Photo by Roi Vincent Ponce)